Asia must act now to pave the way for green, resource-friendly cities or face a bleak and environmentally degraded future, says a new Asian Development Bank (ADB) report.
“Asia has seen unprecedented urban population growth but this has been accompanied by immense stress on the environment,” said Changyong Rhee, ADB’s Chief Economist.
“The challenge now is to put in place policies which will reverse that trend and facilitate the development of green technology and green urbanization.”
In a special chapter of its flagship annual statistical publication, Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2012, ADB examines the challenges and opportunities associated with the region’s breakneck urban boom. It also details measures needed to turn cities into environmentally sustainable, inclusive growth centers.
Since the 1980s, Asia has been urbanizing at a faster rate than anywhere else, with the region already home to almost half of all the world’s city dwellers.
In just over a decade, it will have 21 of 37 megacities worldwide, and over the next 30 years another 1.1 billion people are expected to join Asia’s already swollen urban ranks.
This breakneck expansion has been accompanied by a sharp rise in pollution, slums, and widening economic and social inequalities which are causing rapid environmental degradation.
Particularly disturbing are urban carbon dioxide emissions
which if left unchecked under a business-as-usual scenario, could reach 10.2 metric tons per capita by 2050, a level which would have disastrous consequences for both Asia and the rest of the world.
Rising urban populations mean that over 400 million people in Asians cities may be at risk of coastal flooding and roughly 350 million at risk of inland flooding by 2025.
Unless managed properly, these trends could lead to widespread environmental degradation and declining standards of living.
The report notes that there is hope. The growth of cities can have many advantages, including critical masses of people in relatively small areas, making it easier and more cost effective to supply essential services like piped water and sanitation.
Rising education levels, factories leaving cities, the growth of middle classes and declining birth rates typically associated with urbanization also have a broadly beneficial impact on resource use and the environment.
Conservation and efficiency improvements will help. Many countries have begun diversifying their energy sources to include renewables and have been investing in energy-efficient buildings and sustainable transport systems.
Imposing congestion and emission charges, as in Singapore, and removing inefficient fuel subsidies, as in Indonesia, can make prices more fully reflect social costs. But the report says much more is needed, including the development and mainstreaming of new green technologies. Early examples are waste-to-energy conversion plants, as in the Philippines and Thailand, or “smart” electric grids.
For urbanization to be not only green but inclusive, policy makers need to promote climate resilient cities, in order to prevent disasters like the 2011 Bangkok floods, and improve urban slum areas, the report points out.
Southeast Asia remains a hot spot for plastic pollution
The use of plastics is deeply embedded in our daily lives, in everything from grocery bags and cutlery to water bottles and sandwich wrap. But the quest for convenience has gone too far and we are failing to use plastics efficiently, wasting valuable resources and harming the environment.
Southeast Asia has emerged as a hot spot for plastic pollution because of rapid urbanization and a rising middle class , whose consumption of plastic products and packaging is growing due to their convenience and versatility.
Diamonds are forever but “James Bond Island” in Phang Nga Bay may not
Thailand’s Department of Mineral Resources will assess the stability of the limestone karst towers, which make up the chain of islands, after several similar rock formations, in both the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea, have collapsed.
Climate Change: how Asia-Pacific will affect the whole planet
Pursuing a green recovery in the aftermath of COVID-19 might sound daunting, but it’s actually a great opportunity to direct recovery spending into stimulating sustainable jobs and growth and fight climate change.
Forget the poetic flap of a butterfly’s wings in Beijing causing rain in Central Park. Climate change issues in Asia-Pacific are measured in superlatives. The world’s biggest population. Two of the three largest carbon dioxide-emitting countries and the largest share of emissions globally.
Subscribe via Email
Developing Asia growth set to rebound to 7.3% in 2021 (ADB)
Thailand slow vaccination progress coupled with a surge of infections has prompted Kasikorn Research Centre to lower its growth projection...
Thailand extends the 7,000 baht “Rao Chana” scheme to 33.5 million Thais
The Ministry of Finance said that the new proposal will increase the number of people eligible for the “Rao Chana”...
Bangkok falls 19 places to 49th most expensive location worldwide
Locations reliant on international tourism have seen their rental markets hit especially hard during the pandemic, resulting in some major...
Thai fruit exports to FTA markets up 107 percent
China, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Australia and Chile are top importers of Thai fruits, especially fresh durian,...
Digital Revolution and Repression in Myanmar and Thailand
Activists have also proactively published social media content in multiple languages using the hashtags #WhatsHappeningInMyanmar and #WhatsHappeningInThailand to boost coverage...
3 Reasons to Be Optimistic About the Baht Right Now
Probably one of the most important factors for the rise of the Baht is the continued weakness of the US...